cover image Brightness Reef

Brightness Reef

David Brin. Bantam Books, $22 (528pp) ISBN 978-0-553-89015-0

This is the first volume in a projected trilogy set in the universe of Brin's Hugo-winning The Uplift War. It's a multivoice narrative concerning the six diverse cultures living on the banned planet Jijo--and what happens to their peaceful society when more humans arrive there via starship, searching for species to ``uplift'' by bringing them to the next level of sentience. Because, long ago, the advanced Buyur civilization declared Jijo off-limits in order to preserve its ecology, the species that have secretly sought sanctuary on the planet have been expecting a ``Judgment Day'' on which the starfaring races will punish them for ignoring the ban. Focusing on narratives from the planet's inhabitants, including the three human children of the paper-crafter Nelo (one a mathematician/linguist, one a religious conservative, one an expert Tracker), and on diary entries from the aliens Asx and Alvin, as well as on the thoughts of a mysterious human starfighter whose memory was badly damaged during his crash-landing on Jijo, the story line follows the characters' attempts to respond in civilized ways to the devastating changes wrought by the arrival of the human starfarers. While the narrative does not so much conclude as simply stop in midstream, it describes a universe that's immensely appealing, leaving readers hungry for more of this exciting, epic adventure. (Oct.)